A high-profile millionaire will be forced to reveal how they paid for their £80m central London property empire as part of a ‘dirty money’ probe.
The individual, who has not been named, is under investigation by the National Crime Agency (NCA) over their suspected involvement in serious crime.
They hold a prominent public role and are described as a ‘politically exposed person.’
Crime chiefs say buying prime London property is a common money-laundering tactic, and warn they will not shy away from targeting “high profile individuals and professional enablers.”
They have used new powers to compel property owners to reveal the source of their cash, hoping to flush out dirty money and assist investigations into suspected crime.
The NCA has secured a judge’s approval at the high court to slap three unexplained wealth orders (UWOs), as the powers are known, on three properties in the capital owned by the individual.
The residential properties, all in prime London locations, were originally bought through offshore companies for more than £80m.
Investigators have also secured legal approval for an order freezing any transactions on the properties, preventing them being sold or transferred while the probe is ongoing.
The NCA has previously used UWOs on properties believed to be owned by jailed Azerbaijani banker Jahangir Hajiyev and his wife Zamira Hajiyeva.
Andy Lewis, Head of Asset Denial at the NCA, said: “This is the second time the NCA has successfully secured UWOs since the new legislation was enacted. They are a powerful tool in being able to investigate illicit finance flowing into the UK and discourage it happening in the first place.
“The individuals behind these offshore companies now have to explain how the three properties were obtained. The NCA will not shy away from complex and detailed investigations against high profile individuals and professional enablers.”
Graeme Biggar, Director General of the National Economic Crime Centre said: “The purchase of prime property in London is a tactic used to launder money and we will use all the powers available to us to target those who try to do this.
“A priority for the NECC is to ensure we explore every opportunity to deny assets linked to illicit finance. Our aim is to prevent misuse of the UK’s financial structures which undermines the integrity of the UK’s economy and institutions.”